• raffavets

27th March 2019 v Royal Navy Vets - IS 2019

The second of our two Inter Service games of the year is upon us and that herd of rhino ripping up my insides has grown. Following last weeks stupendous trouncing of the Army in their own backyard, dare I dream?...I dare to dream. The Navy are not going to be easy and it will fall on the Manager, coaches and backroom staff to ensure that the players can concentrate on just the game and keep their feet firmly on the ground. The players are not allowed to dream just yet...they have a job to do first. We are here at TNS FC and what a great place this is. Matt and myself visited the afternoon before to ensure everything was covered for our game the following day and the staff there were superb. Whatever we asked for was either there or could be arranged, we even managed to get a fourth official arranged (we never asked for that, it was volunteered) and more about Statto later!! On the morning of the game, we had the use of the main conference room until 11.15 when we would hand it over to some University or other who were having a conference of their own. However, it was closer to 11.39 when the last of the RAF contingent left the room as they had sat intently listening to the Matt and Craig show...actually tactics, formation etc etc, but I’m sure I saw a giraffe pass the window at one stage whilst the uni lot sat on their coach waiting to get in!! And so, with the talking over, the players changed, the final “let’s do this” still ringing out, it was onto the game. That’s when Statto took over. He was the fourth official we had been given. A staunch supporter and volunteer at TNS, he had been the match announcer the previous evening at the RAF Ladies game (they won 3-1 by the way), and his first words to me were “Can I have your squad names and numbers, that will be first name and surname, your starting eleven and can you also tell your management team that only 2 members are allowed in the technical area at any one time? Thanks”. Kick off was only minutes away but you just knew that with Statto, the game would only kick off when HE was ready. The other 3 officials had already tried to hide from him so I complied. Statto then took his place, with his electronic board, between the technical areas and despite his cries of “only two in the technical area” no one took any notice after the game kicked off. The Navy kicked off. The RAF were first to register an attempt and that came in the fourth minute. A quick free kick by Robison to Taylor then saw the ball played across to Wanless before Rooney was brought into the play. His cross was played back across the box by Zenko but Seddon’s shot was over the bar. The RAF continued to probe for the next few minutes but opportunities were rare as the Navy defended well and chances were limited to pot shots from outside the box. In the tenth minute the RAF conceded a free kick out on the far left side. The kick was whipped in and a Navy forward stooped to flick on a header but unfortunately for Algar, in the RAF goal, the flick on then hit the same players shoulder as it came off his head and deflected beyond the reach of the surprised keeper. 1-0 RN. Well then, that wasn’t in the script but it didn’t take long for parity to be restored, in fact, just 27 seconds elapsed between the Navy scoring and the equaliser. From the kick off the ball found Robison who played a long diagonal ball over the top. Thomas was there to guide it into the path of Seddon who gratefully accepted the chance and buried it. 1-1 and back to all square. The next ten minutes were again nip and tuck though Wanless was close with a shot after a storming run but in the twentieth minute the RAF were awarded a penalty. A strong run down the wide right by Zenko saw him beat one defender before coming along the line. As he tried to cut back inside another defender he was unceremoniously dumped and the referee had no hesitation pointing to the spot. One thing we had forgotten in the build up this season was practising penalties so who would take it? Seddon stepped up and took responsibility and forced the keeper into a great save but immediately claimed an assist when Thomas followed up and slotted the rebound into the corner. 2-1 RAF. Schofield tried a long range effort but easy for the Navy keeper and the RAF boys were now bossing the game. All the players were giving their all, playing with a pride and a passion that only winners have as we had seen the previous week. There was still a long way to go in this game, so time would tell, but the signs were there. The Navy made their first substitute in the 24th minute and just five minutes later the RAF extended their lead. Seddon, who was a constant thorn in the Navy’s side, stormed through and rounded the keeper before slotting the ball home. He obviously wanted to celebrate with the management on the sideline as quickly as he could and there, from behind the goal, appeared Harry the Horse. Seddon rode him to the technical area to a crescendo of laughter and clapping from an appreciative audience. 3-1 RAF and Statto, for once, didn’t know what to say. The Navy were being kept at bay (no pun intended) with efforts coming from long shots or the odd corner they won but the RAF defence was resolute (again, no pun intended). McCormick even found time from his defensive duties to charge upfield playing some nice one two’s on the way before he was fouled to the left of the box about sixteen yards out. Robison took the kick and whip curled it in and the keeper had to be alert to tip it round the post for another RAF corner. In the 42nd minute, Seddon tried to chip over the keeper from way outside the box but watched as the ball sailed narrowly over the crossbar. There was no more action to speak of and the referee blew the half time whistle. HT 3-1 RAF. Despite the half being dominated by the RAF, the next goal, should there be one, could be the key. RAF score and it’s probably game over, Navy score and they are back in it and could kick on. The players were reminded of that and with 45 minutes still to play, they had to go out there and continue to earn the right to win the game. This was an immense display by all so far but it was only half time. Forty five minutes was all that was left of the Inter Services for the RAF and it had to be a good forty five!! The RAF kicked off the second half and they had made one substitution at half time with Taylor going off, Bartley moving to right back and Tweedie coming on into midfield. Algar was called into action in the forty ninth minute when a Navy free kick was whipped in. A great header looked destined for the top corner but an acrobatic Algar tipped it over. Great save but a corner to the Navy and from the resultant kick the ball is headed narrowly over. “Come on boys...wake up!!” I was thinking but Robison must have read my mind and played a brilliant diagonal ball across to the right. Zenko headed the ball past a defender, rounded him, then fired in a shot that only just went past the far post. Almost an assist there Robo. “That’s better!!” I said to no one in particular. Rooney then made way for Stewart, a straight swap at left back and then, in the 53rd minute, Robison went one better than earlier when his through ball split the defence and Seddon side stepped the Navy keeper and walked the ball into an empty net. An assist for Robison, a hatrick for Seddon but more importantly, 4-1 RAF. That preceded a raft of changes for the RAF (raft? sorry can’t help it) but the boys in blue were awake and were taking the game to the Navy and were unlucky on numerous occasions with Thomas the closest with a shot that was well saved. Tweedie, having come on at half time was having a great game being involved in everything the RAF were creating and a superb turn in midfield then saw him pass with the outside of his boot to Zenko on the right. He ran to the byline before whipping over a lovely cross that Seddon couldn’t quite reach. That was a let off for the Navy and would have been a contender for goal of the season had it got in (Oops maybe not, just remembered a miskick at Cardiff). The Navy were still trying, they only had a small squad and the pace of the game was taking its toll on them but they still created the odd chance and a good break down their right and a cross that was pulled back found the head of the striker but as it came slightly behind him he could only direct his header over the bar. The game settled down again as the RAF slowed things down a little but a free kick after a foul on Schofield almost saw the RAF extend the lead. The kick was put in by Robison, Thomas tried his luck but the ball was charged down before Bartley smashed it back goalward only to see it pass just inches outside of the post. HE didn’t wait too much longer though for a goal as in the 71st minute, Zenko raced down the right again, whipped in a cross and Bartley was there to smash it though the keepers hands and between his legs and into the bag of the net. 5-1 RAF. More RAF substitutions followed and soon, there would be a totally different side finishing the match to the one that started. I won’t bore you now with how the RAF continued to dominate but there were no more goals and the full time whistle went 5-1 RAF and finally we could get into the dressing room and away from Statto’s stats that he had been regaling anyone within earshot with...all game. Inter Service Champions 2019...we celebrated. RAF Starting XI: Algar (GK), Taylor (C), Robison, McCormick, Rooney, Schofield, Bartley, Zenko, Thomas, Wanless, Seddon. Subs: Laurie (GK), Harris (GK), Laing, Stewart, Butt, Pugh, Donnelly, Turner, Baker, Martin, Macek, Tweedie, Clarke, Edwards, Shanks, Stockport, Coull The backroom staff consisted of so many and apologies if I miss anyone out... Sir Chris Coville (President), Beattie (RTM), Pierre, (Assistant RTM), Salkeld (Coach), Gill (Coach), Wilkinson (Coach), Green (Coach), Milam (GK Coach), Dye (GK Coach), Robertson (Kit), Payne (Head Therapist), Morris (Therapist), Sheehan (Head of Comms), Bones (Photo), Armour (Photo), S. Taylor, Jones, Peel, Watkins (Support staff) It was great to see the RAF FA HQ staff out again for our fixture with Air Cdre Pratley there and Vince Williams amongst others and it was great to see Nige Quincy back in the fold...a blast from the past and a worthy recipient of one of the Recognition Awards given out post game. Again, apologies if your name is not included (I’m sure you’ll let me know and I can amend) but I’m getting old and my memory is not what it was. I did do a register at the Army game but this time I forgot (told you!!). A number of players and staff received their caps on qualifying for the award and Tony Macek also received a recognition award for his sterling efforts over the years and not only do we thank the Royal Navy lads for playing the game, we also thank them for staying behind after the game whilst the presentations took place despite a long journey back to Portsmouth beckoning. Well done fellas!! Special thanks to our own Jonny Watkins who, despite the pot on his leg from his injury the previous week, supported us all whatever way he could...brilliant mate, just brilliant. Special thanks to Matt Lee and his team at TNS for the use of the facilities and all the help he provided and....(drum roll, fanfare)...Massive shout out to Statto who is one in a trillion!! So, RAF FA Vets are Inter Service Champions 2019 (has a nice ring to it that) and the family would like to thank EVERYONE who has been involved this season, be it one game or many. We could not have done it without you. This season has been immense and with just 2 events left (only one footballing event at Royal Wootton Bassett), we hope we continue to finish on a high and can look forward to starting the journey again next season. We have something to defend now!! Check out the photos of both the Army and Navy games at.. https://facebook.com/matt.beattie.7186/albums/10157168399675719

©2019 by Royal Air Force FA Vets. Proudly created with Wix.com